Keeping Your Family Safe Online

There is now an almost blanket requirement for younger members of our families to have access to some way of getting online for school whether that be PC, Laptop or Phones and Tablets. The last few years have shown technology as crucial in continuing education through lockdowns, sick days etc and it is certain these will now be part of the normal day to day process in education. While in-school use is generally heavily locked down to protect users from the more malicious or adult side of the internet, out with school or school provided portals and software there is a huge risk of young people encountering unsuitable material, websites or software that can impact on their mental and physical wellbeing.


There are many options available from 3rd party paid for solutions to install on devices to lock them down and filter content however depending on what devices are in use there are some simple steps you can use to protect and manage the risk:



Microsoft have their Family system which is one of the best starting places for Windows PC and Xbox users. This allows you to create user accounts and associated email addresses for your family members then designate them as an adult / manager or child account. Users profiles include their ages and can have content / games etc blocked based on age ratings (with the option for manual overrides by the adults to allow specific titles when requested by a child account) with the ability to set time limits (daily duration and window of use) for Windows devices, Xbox gaming devices or combined. Time limits can be customised for each child and children can request additional time if they want or need to. Spending limits can be set if allowed, or children can request a purchase from the Microsoft store – requests and management can all be easily controlled through the Microsoft Family app. For shared PCs etc once logged in by a parent the devices can then be set to allow or disallow the family users to then logon to the computer. Reports on device usage, website history (if using Edge), application use etc can be scheduled to come via email to parent users. Overall a good option and as it is free it’s a no brainer to have setup from day 1 for young users.



Google Safe Search is usually enabled by default when using Google as a search engine and is commonly used as a first line of defence in educational facilities. It basically filters and protects from the first Google search on the web, where possible hiding or removing questionable material from the search results. As Google also own YouTube, there is a Safe Search function within YouTube too. Due to the volume of content available it’s not always 100% but definitely reduces the volume of material younger family members are exposed to. You can create a Google account (using the email address from your kids Microsoft account), log them into Chrome and YouTube and enable the Safe Search options for them.  There is also the YouTube Kids app instead of the normal YouTube app which allows you to select content available using age bands or approve content yourself.



Amazon have their Kindle Fire range of tablets based on Android. However they have a kids specific version called the Kindle Fire Kids which includes a good quality rubberised case and a longer warranty which also includes damage cover if something happens to the device. This is a much better option for younger family members than a costly Apple or Android tablet. The Kindle for Kids also has a simplified and locked down interface specifically designed for children to use with books, tv series, apps and games etc all specifically approved for children’s use with no access to the normal apps etc. As a parent you can install other programs from your own profile and approve them or allow the child to just use content from the kids store (there is a subscription required for this but the first year normally comes included with the cost of the device and its fairly cheap after that, the content available is all included in this cost and there are no in-app purchase options etc).


There are a wealth of resources available to assist in protecting your children’s online presence, and many schools are now starting early in trying to prepare children to be net wise. A couple of good resources are below: